The United States Air Force’s The Lockheed Martin F–35 Lightning II is being touted as the successor to the F-18. With a top speed of nearly 1,200 mph and a variety of munitions options, it’s a powerful aircraft that could dominate the skies. But the F-35 offers another advantage that’s often overlooked: it expands the U.S. military’s carrier abilities.
Aircraft carriers have become a symbol of strength in the U.S. military, allowing it to exert its strength and power throughout the world. Just a single U.S. Nimitz class carrier, for instance, can carry up to 75 different aircraft. So instead of using local bases from which to execute airborne missions, the military can launch directly from a floating base in the middle of the ocean. Of course, this is just one of the many reasons why aircraft carriers are such as critical component in the U.S. military. They also offer both ground and air attack/defense capabilities, making them a true force to be reckoned with.
However, new reports indicate that the Air Force’s F-35 could enhance the military’s carrier abilities. This is because the fifth-generation aircraft has systems in place which limit the variables that pilots must watch for as they land. It’s no secret that landing an aircraft on a carrier is no easy task — and that’s putting it mildly. Pilots must land their aircraft on a moving, floating carrier that typically only has about 500 feet of runway space. The good news is that aircraft carriers are equipped with a wire that catches the landing gear, allowing them to stop on a dime.
The F-35 has systems in place to reduce the amount of variables that pilots must take into account when catching the wire on an aircraft carrier. Thanks to these features, pilots are able to practice and train for landing in less time.
“What has traditionally been required for initial qualifications … that can probably be reduced, because the task becomes mundane after a while,” said Lt. Cmdr. Daniel Kitts. “You can make corrections so easily.”
According to Military.com, this system is called the Delta Flight Path. Pioneered by Lockheed Martin, it receives input directly from the Naval Air Systems Command to assist pilots in takeoff and landing. The Air Force is currently testing the Naval Air Systems Command along with half a dozen other systems for the F-35 to see which works best.
What do you think of the Air Force’s F-35?